OHIO — Three people in America have died from suspected vaping-related lung illnesses, and another death possibly linked to vaping is currently under investigation.
As concerns about the dangers of e-cigarette use are growing, several states are taking steps toward stricter laws.
Earlier this week, Michigan became the first state to ban flavored e-cigarette cartridges.
Medical experts in New York are looking into dozens of respiratory illnesses linked to a chemical called Vitamin E acetate.
Ohio health officials hope the Buckeye State isn’t far behind.
Ken Fletcher oversees operations of both the Ohio and Michigan branches of the American Lung Association. He believes e-cigarette manufacturers have taken advantage of teenagers and young adults.
“That’s the whole reason why they use these sugary, sweet flavorings like cotton candy and bubble gum and Fruit Loops,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher added because these products have only been on shelves for about a decade, the long-term health effects are unknown.
“They have been billing these since their inception as being clean and safer and healthier,” Fletcher said, “And quite frankly, there’s just not the data to back that up.”
While Ohio Governor Mike DeWine continues to defer to federal regulators on the issue, Ken Fletcher hopes Michigan’s ban on flavored cartridges will make vaping less appealing.
Fletcher said while Michigan is currently the only state with that sort of ban in place, Ohio is taking steps to curb tobacco use by raising the legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21.
“That’s going to have a huge impact by keeping those products out of the hands of those who are under the age of 21,” Fletcher said. “So Ohio is doing great things in making some progress in this area as well.”
That law goes into effect on October 1, 2019. However, people who are 18 years or older by that date will still be legally allowed to purchase tobacco and e-cigarette products.